As a highly aggressive and painful cancer, mesothelioma’s symptoms can vary from patient to patient and with the area of the body affected. Mesothelioma can take a long time to develop, and the symptoms of this disease often do not present themselves until the cancer has progressed to later stages. Symptoms of mesothelioma often affect breathing and the thoracic cavity (chest), and they can often be taken for problems related to other diseases, such as pneumonia, flu, or even lung cancer.
So many sufferers of mesothelioma have pain in the lower, back or sides of the breast cancer. Some may also experience pain in the abdominal area. Because the abdomen contains many different organs, symptoms can vary significantly, depending where within the abdomen tumors occur and which organs may be affected. Symptoms such as loss of appetite and swelling can often be confused for diseases related to specific organs or systemic problems, rather than mesothelioma.
The major risk factor for mesothelioma is asbestos exposure. Between 80 to 90 percent of people diagnosed with mesothelioma have been exposed to asbestos, which is a group of natural minerals found in the earth. Asbestos was once commonly added to cement, insulation, roof shingles, and other products because of its strong, flexible fibers and fire-proof properties.
People involved in making products containing asbestos or installing or maintaining these products can breathe in or swallow the asbestos fibers. These fibers can also be carried in asbestos dust on clothing or personal items, exposing family members of the workers to potentially high levels of the minerals. A substantial number of people who develop mesothelioma have been exposed to asbestos and that is why it is very important to always wear protective gear and follow safety precautions when working with asbestos.
Other factors that can raise a person’s risk of developing mesothelioma include smoking, radiation exposure and genetics. About 1% of people with mesothelioma have inherited mesothelioma, meaning the risk of developing the disease was passed from parent to child within a family. Usually, it is due to a mutation. Radiation exposure may cause mesothelioma, such as when a patient has previously received radiation therapy for lymphoma.
One of the best ways to prevent mesothelioma is to limit your exposure to asbestos at home, in public buildings, and at work. Workers in shipyards, power plants, chemical plants, railroad and automotive industries regularly encounter asbestos on the job. It is advisable to always perform air monitoring, complete regular assessments of asbestos risks, and communicate asbestos hazards to workers.
Lastly, anyone performing renovation work on a home should be cautious of asbestos. There is no way to tell if a product in your home contains asbestos unless you consult a professional and have samples sent to a certified laboratory for testing.
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